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New research reveals effects of COVID-19 on breast cancer screening, treatment and care

An increase in deaths could be prevented by ensuring older women do not miss final screening

How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect the daily lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer? Dr Claudia Bargon, clinician and PhD student at University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht), presents this study at the (online) European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC) that takes place October 2 & 3.

The study included 1051 women diagnosed with breast cancer from Utrecht and found that 48% of women felt lonely during the pandemic. The research also found that 31% of women were less likely to seek help from their GP, 27% were worried about the effects of the pandemic on their aftercare and 15% were less likely to seek help from their breast cancer physician.

Claudia Bargon: “We know that medical services, including those for breast cancer patients, had to be rearranged during the crisis. We also know that social support can be of vital importance for many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and that support can be restricted by social distancing measures.”

“Our study shows that women were less likely to seek medical help during the pandemic and that a high proportion of women suffered loneliness during lockdown. This suggests that patients need reassurance that they should seek medical help when they need it and that we need to enable patients to access mental health support, even if this needs to be delivered online rather than face-to-face.”